LA JOLLA (CNS) - The UC San Diego School of Medicine announced Thursday that it will be part of an effort to collect DNA samples from 50,000 autism patients aged 3 to 100, in what is being touted as the largest study of the disorder ever undertaken in the U.S.
Karen Pierce, an associate professor of neurosciences at UCSD, and her colleagues will seek 3,000 study participants diagnosed with autism, and their
family members, in the San Diego region and in Phoenix, where she's conducting other autism-related research.
"Autism has a strong genetic component, but there's a lot of heterogeneity in the genes involved,'' said Pierce, a co-director of UCSD's Autism Center of Excellence. ``More than 50 genes have been identified that almost certainly play a role in autism, but there may be 300 or more.''
Sponsored by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, based in New York, the study is called SPARK -- for Simons Foundation Powering Autism
Research for Knowledge -- and involves 21 research institutions across the country that are recruiting participants and collecting data.
"One of the major challenges in autism genetics research is sample size,'' Pierce said.
"Individual projects may fail to find genetic abnormalities, not because they aren't there, but because the sample size is just too small,'' she said. "SPARK addresses that by pulling together information and data from not just 50,000 persons with autism, but also family members, such as both parents.''
Pierce said the study will provide researchers with an abundance of material to study and share, so they'll be able to look more effectively for relevant biological mechanisms behind autism, and how genetic and environmental factors interact to result in autism spectrum disorder.
Years ago, children with autism were not identified, helped or treated until they were 5 to 10 years old, or even older, Pierce said. Now, most
clinicians and researchers are aiming for early diagnosis and treatment, which gives patients a significantly better chance of improvement, she said.
Chula Vista Police on Sunday were trying to determine how a man's body ended up in the middle of the street. Someone first spotted him early in the morning in the westbound lanes of Buena Vista Way near Rancho Del Rey Parkway.
The Pacific Southwest Emmy Awards were held Saturday night near Palm Springs and we're proud to share that several members of the News 8 team were honored.
Defending World Cup champions Germany, were exposed defensively and surprisingly beaten by Mexico 1-0 on Sunday, putting its hopes of advancement in doubt. In San Diego, hundreds of fans took to the streets of National City to celebrate Mexico's win.
An immigrant who once bundled ink-fresh newspapers at a newspaper printing press took control of the San Diego Union-Tribune Sunday, and promised in a letter to readers to fight fake news as if it were cancer.
A 21-year-old woman was found dead in her bedroom Saturday night and San Diego Police suspect foul play. The victim's family made the discovery just after 5 p.m. at their home in the 3600 block of 45th street in City Heights.
Weekend temperatures dropped nearly 10 degrees in most areas around the county, compared to a few days ago. Slight warming is expected early next week as upper low pressure weakens.
Del Mar is the only city in North County that allows off-leash dogs on the beach, but yearly seasonal changes to that rule have just taken effect.